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Plan lists top road projects

After a year packed with extensive community outreach and the cooperation of numerous committees, the transportation element of Oak Harbor’s Comprehensive Plan was approved last Tuesday night by the City Council.

The lengthy and involved update to the transportation element includes revised goals and policies, technical analysis of the existing levels of service, six-year traffic projections, six-year capital projects, long-term projections, and a financial analysis.

Oak Harbor has seen considerable growth since the last update in 2000. The document also projects the city’s transportation needs through 2035, said Project Engineer Arnie Peterschmidt.

“In brief, the plan identifies transportation needs and proposes solutions to meet those needs,” he said. “The solutions include planning for new roadway networks in undeveloped areas, improvements to existing transportation facilities and changes to planning goals and policies.”

The six-year project list includes the Bayshore Drive extension project, the N. Oak Harbor Street reconstruction project, the Pioneer Way roadway improvement project, and the Freund Marsh Trail project. Staff also made plans for the waterfront trail project and other reconstruction or improvements around the city.

“Also contained in the plan is a list of recommended improvements through the end of the planning period in 2035,” Peterschmidt said. “These improvements include new roadways in developing areas such as the Goldie Road Enterprise Area and the southern most area of the UGA.”

The engineer said that other sections of street have been recommended for new roadways with both landscaping and bike lanes.

Financial analysis and formation of a viable funding strategy were no small tasks. The costs should be offset by likely state and federal grants, state gas tax distributions, utility enterprise fund contributions, real estate excise taxes and impact fees.

Updating the transportation element is a requirement of the Growth Management Act. The total project costs are estimated at just over $41 million and revenues from the identified sources should be almost $34 million, leaving a shortfall of about $7.5 million.

City Engineer Eric Johnston told the council that the financial plan shows the existence of adequate funding for the projects that have to be done first. The next step will be to further address funding strategies.

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